Chad, Guinea: Lets talk about violence against women

Amnesty International have released a report on the sexual violence being carried out against refugee women in Chad. The violence is taking place in the Eastern region where Chad borders with Sudan. Out of the 250,000 refugees most are women and children who are living in 12 different camps.

The nightmare therefore continues in refugee camps in Chad through the constant threat of
rape (when women forage for firewood to cook their food), chronic hunger, and a lack of essential needs to support their families. Many of the women expressed the feeling that they would be better off anywhere else and even, some said, better off dead. Among 88 women interviewed, PHR researchers documented 32 instances of both confirmed and highly probable cases of rape. Fifteen of those instances occurred in Chad, with one woman assaulted twice. Eleven of these instances were confirmed rapes and four were highly probable. Ten of the eleven confirmed rapes occurred when women left the camps for such activities as searching for firewood. The report highlights that fearfulness and unhappiness have become commonplace among women in Farchana Camp

The sexual violence is taking place inside and outside the camp. Nowhere are women and girls safe in this horror of displacement, poverty and violence and where the perpetrators roam freely as they act with impunity.

And now in Guinea hundreds dead have been shot on the streets, many with multiple bullet wounds and what of the women protesters? They have been stripped naked and sexually assaulted on the streets of Conakry.

Eyewitnesses and medical personnel told Human Rights Watch that many of the bodies of protesters were riddled with bullet holes. Others had stab wounds from knives and bayonets. A number of women taking part in the demonstration were stripped naked and sexually assaulted by security forces, victims and witnesses said…………..A second witness to the violence said:

“I saw the Red Berets [an elite unit within the military] catch some of the women who were trying to flee, rip off their clothes, and stick their hands in their private parts. Others beat the women, including on their genitals. It was pathetic — the women were crying out.”……….Another eyewitness said: “I saw several women stripped and then put inside the military trucks and taken away. I don’t know what happened to them.”

To avoid what Dan Mosenberg calls the “profession of shock and or the endless, and endlessly reiterated, cycle of lamentation” and thereby

argue for the importance of respecting the multiple intersections and convergences, the multiple layerings, that underwrite and comprise any single event of sexual or gender based violence, and that necessarily complicate any discussion of these at a broader level”

Whilst I fully understand what Dan is saying, at this moment I am finding it very hard to find anything in the “multiple layerings” of either of these events – Dafur is less an event than an ongoing nightmare that provides some kind of meaning understanding outside of sheer brutality and terror against women that exists in every country, everywhere.

Gendered intersections – globalisation, militarisation, commerce, poverty all come to mind!

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